World Series Daily: Washington’s last stand? Astros could wrap up World Series

The World Series returns to Houston for Game 6 on Tuesday, with the home team up 3-2. Is this the 2019 Fall Classic finale, or will the Washington Nationals live to fight another day against the Astros?

What’s on tap

8:07 p.m. ET: Nationals at Astros, Game 6

The view from inside the ballpark

HOUSTON — Houston’s got that swagger back. He isn’t the loudest guy on the team, but Carlos Correa might be the best at putting the state of the Stros into words. After Game 5, he talked about a conversation with Jose Altuve on the flight to D.C., when he told Altuve that the Astros weren’t singing after hits and getting hyped after big plays. They weren’t showing the emotion that fueled them all season.

That all changed in Washington, with Houston’s offense suddenly looking much more like the juggernaut we saw at the plate from April to September while players fed off one another’s fire. — Dan Mullen

A stat to impress your friends: No team in history has lost all three games at home and won the World Series. That’s what the Nats face in the final game(s) at Minute Maid Park.

Two questions

1. What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen this series?

Over the past three games, Houston’s lineup showed us why some of the advanced metrics rate the Astros as one of the best lineups of all time. For all the pre-Series talk about the big four starting pitchers, we kind of forgot that the Astros can rake (in part because they didn’t put up big numbers against the Rays or Yankees). They have 36 strikeouts in five games compared to 50 by the Nationals — a team that has emphasized two-strike hitting all postseason. Of course, Houston won’t be facing Joe Ross in Game 6, but rather Stephen Strasburg. Let’s see if Jose Altuve (.360 in the series, one strikeout) can step up again. — David Schoenfield

Juan Soto. The only thing that stopped us from saying “How is that guy only 20?” all series is that we had to start saying “How is that guy only 21?” midway through it. He turned around Gerrit Cole’s fastball for home runs twice in two games. Nobody does that. But here’s the thing about Soto: His most impressive at-bats aren’t the ones that end with a baseball in a fan’s hands 400 feet away; they’re the ones that end with him trotting to first base after outlasting an ace a decade older than him. — Mullen

2. What will we all be watching Wednesday night: baseball or something else?

Everybody tells me I should try “Succession.” That’s my first offseason show. I have a feeling I’ll be starting it on Thursday, however … if only because I’ll be traveling Wednesday after the Astros wrap it up in six. Believe me, I want seven games. We’ve come this far. Let’s go the distance. Let’s get Max Scherzer back for Game 7 against Zack Greinke in a matchup of two potential Hall of Famers (would remind me of Roger Clemens facing Curt Schilling in Game 7 in 2001). Alas, I’m getting off-track here. Prediction below. Sorry, Nats fans. — Schoenfield

Well, I have a tradition of wrapping up October by rewatching “Major League” on my flight home after the World Series every year, so I’m going to have baseball on either way. But you probably weren’t asking about my in-flight entertainment options, so I guess the real question is will it be Willie Mays Hayes or George Springer leading off?

Sorry, Nats fans, but I think the Astros are going to have us all queuing up those go-to baseball flicks that get us through to spring training one night early. — Mullen

Predictions

I think Stephen Strasburg will pitch well. I think Justin Verlander will pitch well (and avoid his first-inning pitfalls). I do not, however, think Strasburg will pitch deep enough into the game. He threw 114 pitches in six innings in Game 2, and the Astros will once again get his pitch count up, forcing him out after six. Houston will score some late runs off the Washington bullpen — I smell a Springer dinger — and the Astros will win it all. With two titles in three years and three 100-win seasons in row, they’ll go down as one of the best teams of all time. Astros 5, Nationals 2. — Schoenfield

How do you pick against Stephen Strasburg right now? Well, like this: You look at the other side, and you see Justin Verlander with a chance to close out a World Series and an Astros offense bursting and itching to finally put on a show for the fans in Houston. Score: Astros 2019 world champs, Nationals 1 helluva season. — Mullen

About Sunday night

Stud of the night: Gerrit Cole. Who else? OK, well, there were a lot of “who elses” to pick from as Yordan Alvarez, George Springer & Co. dropped seven runs on Washington to win Game 5. But the Astros needed only a pair, as Cole allowed just one run and struck out nine in seven innings to bounce back from his Game 1 loss and seemingly restore balance to the universe.

Dud of the night: Lance Barksdale. The home plate umpire made a couple of questionable calls — and offered an equally questionable rationale for one of them, which was caught on a hot mic. Doubtless some angry Nats fans wished a robot had been behind the plate instead.

Highlight of the night:

Off the diamond

Social media says:

Hakeem Olajuwon is throwing the ceremonial first pitch to Clyde Drexler before Game 6 of the World Series

Quote of note: “What I’ve learned over the last few years of winning is that when something doesn’t go your way, there’s an immediate overreaction to like, ‘What’s going on? What’s wrong with your team?’ And my message is always that, ‘No, we’re the same team. We’re the same talent. We have the same vibe.'” — Astros manager AJ Hinch

Best of the Fall Classic so far

Our running World Series MVP: The Astros hold serve, but the Nats aren’t finished yet. Still, the MVP of this series is Houston’s to lose. With so many possible candidates, we’ve decided to cheat a little — and direct you to Bradford Doolittle’s column on this topic ().

The play of the series: Yordan Alvarez’s two-run, second-inning home run off Joe Ross in Game 5. Although the Stros piled it on later in the game, Alvarez’s 405-foot blast set the tone for what would become a three-game Houston sweep in Washington.

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